The leaf hopper is another common soft-bodied pest that begins appearing around mid-late May as they arrive to the mid-Atlantic on northerly blowing trade winds. Young leaf hopper nymphs (Fig 1) feed on the juices on the underside of the hop leaves as they slowly molt into adults throughout the summer. As infestation levels increase, hop leaves begin to turn brown on the edges and curl. Between the brown edges and the normal leaf green color, there is a yellow intermediary section (Fig. 2). This is commonly known as “hopper burn” and is the tell tale sign of leaf hopper damage.
There are many pesticides available to commercial growers to control leaf hopper, but MVH has found that simple organics controls such as Neem oil and Insecticidal soaps are an easy and cost effective method for their control. Application must be targeted to the undersides of leaves as this is where leaf hopper eggs are laid, and where the nymphs feed. Controlling them in their earlier stages of life before they molt into adults is much easier. Also, while alfalfa may seem like a good ground cover between hop rows, this plant is the leaf hopper’s favorite food source, so having alfalfa around the hop yard could increase leaf hoppers’ presence.
(Fig 1) Leaf Hopper nymph beside the white molted exoskeletons
(Fig 2) Leaf Hopper feeding damage commonly called "Hopper Burn"
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